Donations are down for the Salvation Army's kettle campaign in East Mississippi. Bell ringers are currently working at 18 sites throughout the area. This year's goal is to raise $125,000. So far, it's estimated that about 25% of that has been raised.
"I'm getting a little nervous, simply because it is so slow," says Major Walter Strong, who is the head officer at the Salvation Army in Meridian.
Major Strong is new to Meridian. He says this week has
been very slow for donations.
"We had three locations at the mall on Wednesday and we only did $150 total for all three stands. So, that's slow. Actually, we're a lot behind last year. We're about 50% behind to date through yesterday."
Larry Pierce is one of the bell ringers outside the mall.
"Some people kind of respond by kind of just walking past the kettle,' says Pierce. "Some of them give. They ask me a little bit of questions. As long as you talk to them and you know what you're talking about, they accept that."
The Salvation Army is religiously based, and because of that, bell ringers do not work on Sundays. With just over 20 days left for the campaign, officials say the local effort is still about 75% away from reaching its goal.
"The money stays right here in Meridian,' says Major Strong. "The money we get from the kettles first of all helps take care of the Christmas needs, and what's left over also helps fund out programs throughout the year."
For the Salvation Army, the kettle campaign is its largest fundraiser of the year. Major Strong says the amount of money raised is so important because about 85% of what's donated is used to directly help clients.
'When the economy goes bad, the poor feel it first. When the economy turns around, the poor feel it last. So, they're always on the end and they're hurting and we need your help!'
Volunteers are also needed to work as bell ringers. The Salvation Army has kettle sites in Meridian, Newton and Philadelphia. For more information on donating or volunteering call the Salvation Army office in Meridian at (601) 483-6156.